B-ball Greats Support Bradley

Thirty basketball legends met at Madison Square Garden Sunday in support of one of their own, former Knick, former senator and current presidential candidate Bill Bradley, once known as "Dollar Bill." Three of those players, Julius Erving, Dave DeBusschere and Oscar Robertson, talked with CBS News' Face the Nation anchor Bob Schieffer.

Robertson, "the Big O," said he believes Bradley "has the ability to go out to the grassroots people and get through to them well, too."

Dr. J., Erving, appropriately, talked about health care. "I am a proponent of Bill's position there... Bill's headquarter plan, which I got a chance to read last night and have been tracking for the last four months, is something that I admire and respect as much as I admire and respect him."

Erving gave no credence to the Gore campaign's assertions that African Americans would not fare as well under President Bradley as they would under President Gore, referring to Bradley's "long-standing record regarding support of the African American community."

Dave DeBusschere roomed with Bill Bradley during their playing days. There are stories about Bradley dragging DeBusschere to museums, even to prisons to look at prison conditions. Apparently, DeBusschere didn't mind. "It was very awakening, so to speak, because I never would have done this by myself."

He elaborated on the gesture the ex-players are making. "Those of us who know him as a man and have had the opportunity of hearing him speak can feel very strongly about his capabilities for leading this country into the future."

During his 18 years in Washington, Bradley wouldn't answer questions about basketball. Some have said that talking about basketball and using basketball to raise money now is a bit opportunistic.

"I think it's smart on Bill's part," Robertson said. "People come to games to see the stars play. They have such influence on Americans today. It is appropriate for me to be here and say that Bill Bradley is a person who can bring these people together."

Probably the most important player endorsement Bradley could get would be Michael Jordan's. Jordan has contributed to the campaign, but he has stopped short of an endorsement, much less active campaigning.

Donna Brazile, the Gore campaign manager, joined the show from Nashville - without basketball players. She thanked Schieffer "for allowing me to appear with men that I admire...Thanks to Title Nine, I was able to play basketball. My father, who I hope is watching today, told me to be very respectful, because he taught me a couple of the Big O's moves."

But she wasn't there to talk about sports. "What I'm here to do this morning is to talk about Al Gore and his campaign. He is a principled leader, a fighter, his record in terms of healthcare, education is what the American people wants to talk about," she said. "He is out in California today raising - raisinhope."

And she issued a challenge. "I called the Bradley campaign and I said my boss is willing to debate. Come on the show next Sunday and go one on one."

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